The Remarkable Story of Fred Spiksley written by Mark Metcalf and published by Pen & Sword Books – £15.99 – Softcover – Pages 256
Gainsborough’s Fred Spiksley was one of the first working class youngsters in 1887 to live ‘the dream’ of becoming a professional footballer, before later finding a role as a globe-trotting coach. He thus dodged the inevitability of industrial, poorly paid, dangerous labour.
Lightning fast, Spiksley created and scored hundreds of goals including, to the great joy of the future Queen Mary who chased him down the touchline, three against Scotland in 1893. The outside left scored both Sheffield Wednesday’s goals in the 2-1 defeat of Wolves in the 1896 FA Cup Final at the Crystal Palace.
Forced by injury to stop playing at aged 36, Spiksley adventured out into the world. He acted with Charlie Chaplin, escaped from a German prison at the start of the First World War and later made the first ‘talking’ football training film for youngsters.
As a coach/manager he won titles in Sweden, Mexico, the USA and Germany, becoming the last Englishman to coach a German title-winning team with 1FC Nuremburg in 1927. This book reveals for the first time his coaching achievements in Badalona, Barcelona, in 1930-31. It also shows how his coaching strategies placed him decades ahead of his contemporaries, and how it took the FA and professional football clubs over sixty years to catch up by imitating his plans for academies.
As an addicted gambler and womaniser, Spiksley had his problems away from football. However, he was beloved by his football fans, including Herbert Chapman, the greatest manager of that era in English football who, towards the end of his life, picked him in his finest XI.
I’m a huge football fan, born in the fine city of Lincoln in 1974, obviously the best year ever. But I want to know how have I never heard of Fred Spiksley? What a fantastic man, a man of many talents not all great. But I have honestly never heard of him which is disappointing because how many other fine young men have we not heard about. He managed to cram so much into life too, I must admit I really enjoyed reading about his football years the most. Reading about the old teams, styles of play and coaching methods that were put in play were great to read about. But not only has his football career come to its end, that he ends up in coaching, management and mixing with world media stars. This book and story was a really good read, and I would think it would be a great read for fellow fans just to be reminded of how things were done in yesteryear.